My friend Deane Evans is in town for a conference and I met him for drinks with two of his colleagues at the View Bar in a corner of the Aria Hotel lobby at City Center. What the bar has a view of is the Aria Hotel lobby.
Deane and his pals had convened in Las Vegas to confer on subjects related to energy efficient building, on which all of them are professional experts, but their after-hours specialty is making each other laugh. Deane has been making me laugh since we were boarding school roommates in 9th grade so it was fun to see him engaged in some high-caliber competition.
This being Las Vegas, the hilarity had to be shared — it was important to make busty cocktail waitresses and cab drivers and waiters and maitre d's laugh as well. All this was done in due course.
A rollicking conversation with a chatty cocktail waitress at the View Bar led to a dining adventure on the other side of town at a locals' restaurant she recommended, Casa di Amore. It's located in a wasteland of isolated establishments and mini-malls on an eastern stretch of Tropicana Avenue. (Directions to the Casa di Amore included the fact that it's right next to The Gun Store, which has a lighted sign featuring a large and scary-looking automatic rifle — it seemed to be assumed that everyone, even if they were unfamiliar with the Casa di Amore, would know where The Gun Store was.)
The restaurant was sublime, with its 80s decor intact, a lounge singer doing really good Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra covers, hearty Italian food and a staff which was only too happy to aid and abet what had become a drunken (yet always impeccably witty) carouse. When Deane asked the waiter for directions to the men's room, the guy told him to step outside, walk around the side of the parking lot and use the bushes there. The maitre d' sent us an extra bottle of Chianti on the house, just to keep the spirits high.
Such was dinner at the “House of Love” — such is Las Vegas.